Fontana board approves recommendations for new village positions

By Anne Trautner

Assistant Editor

At its meeting Monday night, the Fontana Village Board approved the village human resources study recommendations that call for hiring a village administrator, a part-time village treasurer and fulltime public works director.

In order to iron out final contract details and prepare any necessary ordinance amendments, the board advanced the recommendations to a closed session at the next monthly meeting on Feb. 3.

The recommendations were fueled by the departure of Kelly Hayden, who was Fontana’s administrator and treasurer until Dec. 7. Anticipating the void left by Hayden, in November the village board approved a consulting contract with Allan Kaminski, a Fontana resident and human resources specialist, to review and create human resources policies and procedures. They may also benefit from HR Consultancy at certain points too, so they can get the professional assistance that they need during cases that need substantial support.

“I spent quite a bit of time researching state and local laws and ordinances and looked at what other communities in the area of similar size do, what their organizational structure is,” Kaminski said. “I then observed activities in the village hall over several weeks, partly to determine if an internal candidate [for village administrator] exists.”

After interviewing village trustees, department heads and village employees, Kaminski concluded that an internal candidate does indeed exist, and recommended that Dennis Martin, who has been serving as village clerk and acting village manager, be appointed on a probationary basis to the position of village administrator.

Martin has worked as village clerk for Fontana for the past 10 years. Before that, he worked as reporter and editor for the Lake Geneva Regional News for more than 10 years.

“I was very pleased with Al’s [Kaminski’s] recommendation after reading it; it’s gratifying to see,” Martin said. “I hope the board follows through with it. It’s exciting to move forward with my ever-evolving career.”

If Martin does assume the position as village administrator on a probationary basis, it would necessitate filling the position for village clerk. In addition, Kaminski recommended that a salary review be conducted for the deputy clerk position.

Kaminski’s report also concluded that the village treasurer should not be part of the village administrator’s duties. He recommended the treasurer be either a part time position, not to exceed an average of 20 hours per week, or be outsourced.

Historically, the village administrator and village treasurer positions have not always been combined. However, as budgets got tight, Hayden absorbed all the treasurer duties over the years, Martin said.

To fill the void when Hayden left, the board appointed Scott Vilona as part-time treasurer for a salary of $50 per hour. Vilona, a certified public accountant, had previously been on the village’s finance committee and plan commission. The village has been paying Hayden to come in and help Vilona with the transition.

Kaminski recommended that Vilona be hired to stay on as the part-time treasurer.

“Scott [Vilona] and I talked about that at length, and I asked him a specific question if he would be interested. He said he would be willing to discuss that with the board as it goes forward,” Kaminski said.

The village should also hire a fulltime public works director, Kaminski said. The village has been without a director of public works since December 2012. Two lead positions, one for water/sewer and one for streets were created at that time to head the department.

“It is not the ideal scenario to have the lead positions as a representative employee. Therefore, my recommendation is that the village board strongly consider a search for a public works director,” Kaminski said. “The village administrator [should] be an integral part of that process, along with the human resources committee.”

The public works director should be a fulltime position because it involves many ongoing duties, such as budget control, cost control, scheduling, overtime and capital expenditures, Kaminski said.

“It takes quite of bit of leadership expertise to manage all those functions at the same time,” Kaminski said. “The director of public works is not so much about specific expertise in one area or another; it is primarily an administrative position, a leadership position, leading the troops, so to speak.”

Still, the position requires hands-on work, Kaminski said.

“I think in a community this size, it’s necessary for leaders of each department not to be desk jockeys,” Kaminski said. “They need to be out and available to the workers, to be great communicators, which I emphasize over and over again. I think one thing that was identified as being first and foremost is more solid communication, keeping you [trustees] informed, and translating your wishes to the workers correctly, unfiltered, so everybody knows what their job is, what the expectations are from the get-go. These traits are all leadership traits.”

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